Saturday, February 04, 2006

1969: my memorable year

I've always loved books, and just yesterday I was thinking about it how it all started.

When I was growing up I spent most of my Saturdays in the public library (the most entertaining thing to do where I lived) , but I think I really, really got my interest in books thanks to my 6th grade teacher, Mrs McQuate. Oh, and the reason I could never forget the year of 6th grade was her habit of banging a huge glass paperweight on the file cabinet next to her desk, loudly proclaiming to us that "this is not the stone-age, people...this is 1969!" Her wild hair reminded you of a feminine Beethoven...funny what you remember.

Well, anyway, 6th grade started out with the announcement that we would be making weekly trips to the library on the 2nd floor of the school and we would also have to give weekly book reports. Since I already spent most of my free time in the library, I thought I would really enjoy this. Then she took us to the hall closet where we hang our coats and boots. It was long and skinny and way in the back she had shelves of books (her books) which she then proceeded to pass out to each of the students. For keeps.

My new best friend, Christine, was handed Uncle Tom's Cabin (or something equally chubby and challenging), and a few of the other girls were given copies of Little Women, Jane Eyre, Don Quixote (you get the picture, right?) So she finally gets to me and she hands me a book called Manuela's First Birthday. Maybe it was a children's classic or something, but my 6th grade self looked at it in shock. The inside of it reminded me of a first grade reader. And to add insult to injury, I had to give a book report on it!

So for our first trip to the library, I wasn't even looking for a specific title, I just made a bee-line for the fattest book on the shelf and it turned out to be the life of Beethoven. My mother just turned 70 this year and she still remembers the day I brought that book home. Every week for the rest of the school year we made our library trips and book reports, and although it was instigated by humiliation and hurt pride, I'm still grateful to Mrs. McQuate and Manuela's First Birthday for getting me started in my life-long love of reading.

So what's your "breakthrough" book experience?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

1965 - a classmate's parent donate about 10 Hardy Boys mystery books to the Catholic school I attended. They were always checked out. I had to find out why. Well I got hooked, and been absorbed by books ever since.

Sr. Lorraine said...

Hi Sr Julia,

I just found out about your blog and came to visit. Good for you, it's great!
I always loved books too but I can't remember any particular one that first started me out. I do remember when I learned to read, that I would devour the readers that we had in school.
Can you add a link to my blog too:
http://thomasfortoday.blogspot.com
I'll add yours to mine.

Diana T d. said...

Back in the late 80's when I was in "community" (Hi Sr. J) I spent much time studying and getting to know Therese of Lisieux. I read her letters and books and felt as if she'd become a personal friend. Delving into the books I could step back in time, experience a little of her life and share a closeness with her through learning. I spent hours delving into her life, determined to write a book about the person I really saw which was much different than many of the candy-coated depictions I'd been reading.

Even today, my mind still wanders back to a book that Sr. Julia gave me in 1990 or so called "The Hidden Face". It had an extremely strong impact on me because this book on Therese dared to step outside the bounds and show her for who she was. Absolutely amazing and revealing! I loved my time getting to know this saint and really seeing her interventions in my life.

In June 1992, I went to San Francisco and had the pleasure of meeting Maria Teresa Gallo of Gallo Wineries. She shared a strong love for Therese of Lisieux and Sr. Julia, she and I shared that mutual love through conversations. Before I left San Francisco to head back East, Mrs. Gallo gifted me with one of the most meaninful gifts I've received to date. Almost as if it came from the hands of Therese herself. A picturebook written in French of relics and pictures that follow Therese's short life. With this book, I could almost touch the things I had read about and become familiar with.

Even though life is very different now then the days I spent as a novice, difficulties can be met head on with a friend like Therese and faith.

Everyone needs their Saints like Therese and their books like "The Hidden Face" to get by. For me, it's hard to imagine any other way.

Nice to see you in cyberspace Sr. Julia, and thanks for showing me the side of Therese I needed to see. ;-)

Kitty said...

I have always loved to read, but I remember a day when I was in about the second grade (1977). Our parish (Our Lady of Guadalupe in Calexico, CA) was having a book fair. It may actually have been run by the Daughters of St. Paul, come to think of it! My mother bought me a copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. I came to the end of it and cried because there wasn't more, until I realized there were 6 more books!

My older sister is a Daughter of St. Paul. I wonder if you know her? (Sr. Maria Elizabeth Borobia is in Boston now)